Crate training

@sanjibasenji said in Crate training:

we followed the advice of our training pro

I have to wonder if this "pro" was experienced with Basenji's, or just dogs in general. Your dog isn't a newborn human, to be left crying in their crib until they pass out from exhaustion. IMHO, this is a horrible way to treat an animal who was taught by their natural mother to sleep with the entire litter.

@elbrant

My sense from this discussion is that the opinions being expressed by those opposed to crate training puppies are not professional trainers. Breeding an animal for 20 years will provide a lot of insight and experience with a breed and with dogs, I have much respect for that accumulated knowledge, but, not to sound rude, that does not make that person a certified or licensed trainer. We keep babies in a crib to keep them safe; we do the same for puppies. Just to be certain we're on the same page, I'm not advocating that any dog, puppy or adult, be crated all day long. I agree with not crating at night once the pup is potty/crate trained (the two work together well).

I have learned from several certified dog training professionals who use modern positive-reinforcement techniques. This includes Brenda Aloff, Michelle Lennon, and I've reviewed content from others including Zak George, and Ken McCann. They all say something very similar to what Michelle states in this video about common misperceptions regarding crate training puppies (and she also states her credentials).

[removed YouTube link]

Being a scientist myself with a Ph.D., I'm a skeptic of unproven claims from un-credentialed sources regardless of experience. Indeed, those who claim they are right based on experience raises red flags for me. I favor advice from those with the most recent and demonstrated evidence-based knowledge. John Maynard Keynes was reported to have said in response to a person questioning why he changed his view on on a policy matter, "Sir, when I encounter new facts, I change my mind. What do you do?" (That wasn't what he actually said, but it makes the point.)

The techniques I learned regarding crate training have worked, so I'm rather skeptical that Basenjis are so different than other dogs in this regard.

But as someone wrote above, "the bottom line is what works for you."

last edited by elbrant

@sanjibasenji said in Crate training:

But as someone wrote above, "the bottom line is what works for you."

That would be me. Colour me amused. Ever since Karen Pryor invented or discovered or whatever "clicker training", the "all positive" gang have considered it the last word on training. As with anything else, there are a lot of "professionals" out there, some of whom are very good, some of whom have the paperwork but not the least clue of how to handle anything that doesn't work out "by the book". There is nothing new about operant conditioning, the methods have been known and applied for decades, (even before psychologists put names to them) but just lately everyone who has watched a youtube video or read a book is an instant expert. What training any animal comes down to is the ability of the trainer to observe and adapt to changing conditions, knowing from experience what is likely going to happen and quick enough to change the approach when something is not working.

Believe it or not, "old school" methods, while harsh, turned out more reliable performers. Once upon a time, dogs that behaved and obeyed off leash were the norm, not the exception. We've come a long way.....now so many trainers advocate never going anywhere without a bag of treats, lest the dog decide he doesn't want to perform. Ask any dolphin trainer.....a sated dolphin will blow you off, unless he is sufficiently bored to want to do the tricks, which is why they prefer to keep them hungry. Clicker training works well for teaching new behaviours, because it precisely marks the behaviour you are looking for. It works less well for eliminating unwanted behaviours. "All positive" trainers throw out half the tools in the bag, but actually they don't, they just don't label them correctly, e.g. "time out" is negative punishment, but we wouldn't want to use the "p" word, would we? Confining a dog to a crate away from people is negative punishment, so call it what it is. Sure, ignoring the crying will generally work (although not with all dogs), but is not my preferred method. Actually, you can get obedience from a dog by withholding your presence and affection and rationing both carefully, keeping the dog kennelled so it is bored and anxious to get out of there. In such circumstances the dog will obey if so doing means it gets more social time, and if disobeying gets it back in the kennel.

I have seen many, many changes in my lifetime. Some good, some bad. But a piece of paper does not a dog trainer make, and the lack of same does not negate someone's experience. Your eyes will tell you who knows what they are doing, and who does not....

@sanjibasenji said in Crate training:

My sense from this discussion is that the opinions being expressed by those opposed to crate training puppies are not professional trainers. Breeding an animal for 20 years will provide a lot of insight and experience with a breed and with dogs, I have much respect for that accumulated knowledge, but, not to sound rude, that does not make that person a certified or licensed trainer.

You "don't want to sound rude", but you clearly do_not_respect the contributions from well established Basenji Breeders in our community. You claim that you "favor advice from those with the most recent and demonstrated evidence-based knowledge..." and then you quote YouTube sources?

The Basenji Forum is made up of many types of members, from hopeful Basenji owners, to lifelong Basenji breeders and everything in between. Their opinions, insights, and knowledge are valuable -- even if you don't agree with them. No one here is required to be certified in any level of ownership or training. We share our knowledge and accept that we won't always agree. If you are looking for advice from "certified professionals", I would recommend that you stop looking on YouTube and find a local source that will work with you one on one.

@sanjibasenji - I don't think that anyone here is opposed to crate training, just the opposite, we all crate train. If this worked for you, great... for the many, this doesn't. And of course it depends on the effort put into training. To me, sounds like you put forth the effort so that would indicate that it works for you. For many puppy owners of any breed, if they think that doing something one time (example puppy biting) will cure .... not happening. Glad to hear that you have solved the issue with crate training... but again, you put forth the effort when many owners do not.

@eeeefarm said in Crate training:

"All positive" trainers throw out half the tools in the bag, but actually they don't, they just don't label them correctly, e.g. "time out" is negative punishment, but we wouldn't want to use the "p" word, would we? Confining a dog to a crate away from people is negative punishment, so call it what it is. ...But a piece of paper does not a dog trainer make, and the lack of same does not negate someone's experience.

I agree with your logic. So perhaps its just that what I mean by trainers using "positive training techniques" and "old school" are different than what you have in mind. None of the professional trainers I've worked with fit your description above. Those I've learned from do use and negative reinforcements, including use of the crate for that purpose on certain occasions, and they do discuss it as negative reinforcement. I'm not sure what the best way to describe "old school" is, but I think we're probably on the same page as something like abuse. For example, I agree with trainers who oppose hitting a dog for any reason, particularly as a training technique, not just because it is abusive, but because it doesn't work and primarily teaches a dog to fear a human, or worse.

Another example is what elbrant mentioned (in opposition to puppy crate training): letting a puppy cry in their crate until they pass out from exhaustion. She is right, this "this is a horrible way to treat an animal." None of the trainers I've worked with and learned from suggest doing this. To me, that would characterize "old school" training.

@tanza
Thank you for reply. I think we're on the same page and understand each other. Again, I appreciate your insights and knowledge.

@elbrant said in Crate training:

You "don't want to sound rude", but you clearly do_not_respect the contributions from well established Basenji Breeders in our community. You claim that you "favor advice from those with the most recent and demonstrated evidence-based knowledge..." Their opinions, insights, and knowledge are valuable -- even if you don't agree with them.

I'm sorry that you are offended by, and appear to misrepresent, what I wrote. I will clarify. To state that I "do not respect" certain breeders or that I do not find their information useful contradicts my very statements to the opposite. For example, I wrote, "Breeding an animal for 20 years will provide a lot of insight and experience with a breed and with dogs, I have much respect for that accumulated knowledge." I also have made similar statements above to this effect, including, "I appreciate your experience and the advice you and other breeders have to offer. I find much of it useful." I've stated the same in other topics.

Perhaps you were irked by what follows in that sentence after "but." However, what I wrote is not a criticism of breeders or disrespectful, but an objective fact relevant to my skepticism of anyone claiming infallible knowledge on the basis of experience. I wrote, in this regard, "but that does not make that person a certified or licensed trainer." I stand by that statement because it is true (even if a tautology). I regret that you interpreted it as offensive or disrespectful. Maybe that's my fault; perhaps I came off as arrogant as someone who scoffs at professional trainers.

An analogy might convey what I intended: A person has been an New York art dealer for 30 years and knows a lot about art and the market. Another person has a doctorate in art history from 10 years earlier with a focus on contemporary art markets. A third person, me, a novice, is thinking of investing in an art piece, but hears different claims from both. I'm simply saying that if the dealer claimed they are correct without a doubt based on their experience, one might have doubts about the dealer's claim of infallibility on that basis and one might consider that the art historian is correct. I believe that would be logical and objective. But to be sure, I'm also saying that I would listen carefully to the information and advice of the dealer who does indeed have practical knowledge and experience, even if their claim of infallibility based on experience is problematic.

and then you quote YouTube sources?

Yes, I do. That a professional trainer places content on YouTube, or a website, or indeed this very forum, does not detract from the authenticity of their credentials any more than that of a breeder. Brenda Aloff, for example, is a renowned trainer with many publications and she IS a local source. I inserted a link to her site for anyone to inspect her credentials. As I've noted before, I learned from her nine years ago.

Michelle Lennon, whose free lesson on YouTube I shared (but you removed), is also a reputable trainer whose online course I took and whose live zoom chat sessions I attended. I learned even more from her in a shorter span than the weekly sessions with Aloff. They and others have a lot of great suggestions, tips, advice, and techniques, as do the breeders. Not that I agree with all their claims either. I realized that Michelle is cautious about things like doggy doors and electric fences after hearing the stories of people who didn't apply them (properly train the dog) and use them (know the limitations) they way I do. I had no problem for 9 years after a few initial errors. If I were in her shoes, I'd probably also not advocate these tools because the costs are too high to try to teach them since so many won't do it the way that works and will take short cuts, and then blame her (or sue her). (I bet she gets advice from a lawyer on what to avoid.)

Thanks for your patience with this long response and I hope we can respect each other's point of view.

This is my last response on this topic.

@sanjibasenji, I think we need to clarify terminology. Reinforcement (positive or negative) increases the likelihood of the animal performing the behaviour we want. Positive is adding, e.g. food reward or praise, negative is removing. Negative reinforcement in practical terms is applying a stimulus of some sort that prompts the animal to do what we want, at which point we remove the stimulus. Horses are mostly trained this way, apply pressure, remove it when you get the response you want. E-collar training is done this way also, apply a mild stimulus, remove it when the dog responds.

Punishment is meant to decrease the likelihood of a behaviour you don't want, negative punishment means taking away something that the animal desires, e.g. freedom or food. Positive punishment can be very mild, or quite severe, but involves an aversive of some sort. Your invisible fence is one example, go over the line and get zapped, but it could also be a spray of water, a sharp word or look, yeah, a smack with a hand or a jerk on a leash......abusive? Maybe, depending on degree, but don't say it doesn't work, because if the timing is right it absolutely does.

Nature uses aversives to teach animals what behaviour to avoid. It is out of favour in dog training, but was used for a very long time successfully by many trainers to produce dependable behaviour in working dogs. Read any of the older training books for examples.

There are many roads that lead to Rome. The one you choose will be the one that works for you and your dog. And dogs are not all alike. Some breeds are born obedient, others have to be convinced or coerced to give desired behaviour, and within breeds there is a lot of variation. The herding breeds are generally easy to train, the hound group not so much. A good trainer adjusts their methods to suit the animal they are teaching. It isn't "one size fits all".

Edited to add.....experience with one dog does not give insight into how a particular technique or device will work with another. I refer specifically to electric fence and Basenjis. I would not trust it even if it appears to work initially. As the dog matures and becomes more confident, the deterrent may not continue to work as expected, and the consequences can indeed be grave. Word to the wise....

last edited by eeeefarm

@sanjibasenji said in Crate training:

I have much respect for that accumulated knowledge, but, not to sound rude, that does not make that person a certified or licensed trainer.

I actually was offended by what you posted. You said you respect the knowledge, but disregard it because they aren't a "certified or licensed trainer"? These are well-intentioned breeders who volunteer to engage with others on the Forum in an attempt to educate and celebrate this amazing dog breed. They share their knowledge. You don't have to agree with them. Offer your opinion and move on. Please don't suggest that their opinion, experience, and education isn't valid because they aren't "certified" or "licensed".

Your overall intent screams that you believe yourself to be better than the rest of us: "I'm a scientist with a PhD." Which puts the rest of us beneath you? In education and social stature? You couldn't know about anyone's socioeconomic status, educational achievements, or expertise on any subject. But you deemed to think it was appropriate to put us in our place. And that, was rude.

Even the analogy you offered is an indication that you don't value anyone who doesn't have a degree. Frankly, if you are hearing conflicting opinions about the same piece of art, get a third opinion. The person with the degree may have just scraped by with a C+, while the person who devoted decades may have been under the tutelage of a Master Artist. And really, if you are planning to purchase such a prized piece of Art, shouldn't you educate yourself so you can make an intelligent decision instead of allowing others to tell you what to buy?


As an aside: The original YouTube link remains, but we certainly do not need her entire catalog of videos. Sharing information is one thing, advertising for someone is another. I would hope that you understand that not everything you see online is true. Including claims to be an expert, certified, trained, Dr., etc., etc. Lots of people in the world are just selling a story.

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